David Jolly says that he has not made a decision whether to run for his former congressional seat next year, but that’s the impression he has given by announcing on Monday that he has hired Vito Sheeley to serve as his “senior advisor for the 2018 political cycle.”
Sheeley has been working as district director for Charlie Crist, the man who defeated Jolly last November in the Congressional District 13 race. Sheeley also worked on Crist’s congressional campaign as his campaign outreach director.
“While I have made no decision whether to pursue elective office in 2018, I am committed to continuing our important policy work of the last three years,” Jolly said in a statement. “As Laura and I consider what is best for our family and our community in 2018, I am thrilled to have Vito Sheeley join our political team. Through my years working with Vito in Pinellas, I know him to be an honorable man, dedicated to our community, and a trusted advisor on how best to represent and serve Pinellas County and the State of Florida.”
“I’m extremely excited to begin my new role with Congressman Jolly,” Sheeley said. “Helping the citizens of Pinellas County has been and will remain the most important priority of my life. As Senior Advisor to Mr. Jolly, I look forward to continuing to listen to the needs and concerns of Pinellas County. I thank Congressman Jolly for recognizing my value to him and his team.”
Max Goodman, a spokesman for Jolly, says that Sheeley will be working with Jolly “to continue policy work locally regarding education, veterans, urban affairs and other Pinellas priorities.” He says he’ll be paid through non candidate committee funds.
The announcement caps a bizarre week in the news for Sheeley, who previously worked for Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor.
There were unconfirmed reports that Crist had fired Sheeley last week, and then rehired him back. FloridaPolitics called Sheeley on Friday to ask him about that report, which he flatly denied, saying that he was still working for Crist at the time.
He also said it was unclear whether he would go on to work for Mayor Rick Kriseman’s re-election campaign, as had been reported by the Tampa Bay Times last week.
“I only wish the best for Vito,” Crist told FloridaPolitics this afternoon. “He did a wonderful job on our campaign, for which I will ever be grateful. I hope for a very bright future for he and his family.”